The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is approaching its climax as Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway marks the penultimate race of the season, the last race in the Round of 8, and the race before the championship race next week in Phoenix.
Last week at Texas Motor Speedway, constant mist pushed the race all the way from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday evening. Kyle Busch came away with his first win of 2020 and the playoff drivers were faced with a quick turnaround to prepare for Sunday’s race at Martinsville.
Brad Keselowski sits on the pole for Sunday’s race. While he sits as the last driver in the top four, he has some cushion with a 25-point lead over Alex Bowman at the cutline. Keselowski is tied for second with Martin Truex Jr. in top-10 finishes with 22.
Truex, who will start second to Keselowski on Sunday, sits 36 points below the cutline as pre-race inspections at Texas saw a 10-point deduction and his crew chief, James Small, was suspended for the race. Despite this, he finished second in all three stages at Texas. In the spring race at Martinsville, Truex picked up his only win of the season (also won the Fall 2019 race as well) and Keselowski, who won the spring 2019 race at Martinsville, finished third.
Bowman will start third as he sits 25 points below the cutline. He has finished in the top 10 in eight of the last 10 races and finished sixth in the spring race at Martinsville. Denny Hamlin will start fourth and has struggled in recent weeks, finishing outside the top 10 in five of the last eight races. However, he still is in position to reach the Championship 4 as he sits 27 points above the cutline. He finished 24th in the spring race at Martinsville.
Kurt Busch starts fifth and sits 81 points below the cutline, meaning the only way he can make the Championship 4 is to win this race. He has two career wins at Martinsville (2002 and 2014) and finished ninth in the spring race. Starting beside him is the points leader, Kevin Harvick. Harvick has the most top-five finishes (20) and top-10 finishes (26) this season. However, the spring race at Martinsville was not one of them as he finished 15th. He sits 42 points above the cutline.
Rounding out the playoff field is Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, who start seventh and eighth. Logano is the one driver who comes into this race locked in the championship four as he won at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. Elliott finished 20th last week at Texas, putting him 25 points below the cutline. Logano finished fourth, while Elliott finished fifth in the spring race at Martinsville.
Coverage for the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville will begin at 2:00 p.m. EST. The stages end on laps 130, lap 260 and the finish on lap 500 with the competition caution coming on lap 60. You can catch the race on NBC and the Motor Racing Network.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/10/28/goodyear-fast-facts-martinsville-5/